In today’s digital world it’s hard to imagine that we still need physical cables to keep us connected to each other. Voice and data cabling facilitates voice and/or data connection within and between businesses. And it’s a growing industry. In fact the voice and data cabling market is expected to reach USD $15 billion globally by 2025, That’s up 5.1% from $11.7 billion in 2022.
With so many options for structured cabling systems available today, it’s becoming easier than ever to set your company up for success. And while it may seem as easy as punching a phone line into a phone jack, there’s a lot more to it than that.
Here are a few tips to help you when considering voice and data cabling for your business.
What is Voice and Data Cabling?
First, what is voice and data cabling? It’s also known as structured cabling or ethernet cabling, and consists of having the right cables installed in the right way and at the right locations to allow for transferring data to the right places. These cables are the center of a network that powers computer systems, connects wireless devices, phone systems, copiers, and more.
Physical cables of various types run from individual equipment to a centralized hub (i.e. server room, telecom closet, etc.). They run behind walls, above ceiling tiles, and even under raised flooring. All to ensure that businesses can keep communication flowing, both within and outside of their physical walls.
Companies of all sizes can benefit from a structured voice and data cabling system.
What are the Benefits of Voice and Data Cabling?
Nearly seamless technology upgrades
One of the great benefits of voice and data cabling and creating a structured system is that as technology evolves, you’ll only need to upgrade your end user equipment, not the whole system. Put the time, money and effort in now, reap the benefits long term.
Optimal network performance
The tools you use to operate your business day-to-day require a reliable cabling infrastructure, with high speed capacity and a lot of bandwidth. Voice and data cabling ensures optimal performance from your network. This is not only good for efficient and seamless operation, but also avoids costly downtime.
Ongoing growth without the headache
A well-planned voice and data network will keep you ahead of the competition. Having a streamlined cabling system allows your productivity to continue, by simply upgrading technology and plugging into the existing cabling system. With proper maintenance and upkeep, you should be able to reap the benefits of your cabling system for many years to come.
Types of Cabling
There are 4 major voice and data cabling standards that you should familiarize yourself with, each with its own benefits.
CAT5e (Enhanced Category 5) cabling is one of the most commonly used in the industry today. An upgrade from CAT5 (Category 5), CAT5e supports bandwidth up to 100 MHz, and Gbps up to 180 feet. It is the most cost-effective due to the high usage, as well as fairly high bandwidth capacity. There are also higher testing standards so crosstalk is minimal.
CAT6 (Category 6) cabling is a bit of an upgrade from CAT5. It can support up to 250 MHz of bandwidth up to 180 feet and is designed to run speeds over 1 Gbpg. CAT6 is available with or without shielding, This shielding adds additional protection to the cables internal wires, further minimizing noise interference.
CAT6a (Augmented Category 6) can support speeds of up to 10 Gbps at 500 MHz bandwidth. With CAT6a, you can transmit data over distances of 328 feet, double that of CAT5e or CAT6. Only available as shielded, the CAT6e cable has a much thicker sheathing that gets rid of all crosstalk. Because of the robust design, the cable itself is much denser and less flexible than either CAT5e or CAT6. Well suited for industrial environments.
CAT7 (Category 7) allows for 10 Gbps and comes with an extra bandwidth capacity of 600 MHz. CAT7 added shielding on individual wire pairs inside the cable to further reduce crosstalk and system noise. This additional shielding, however, makes it the least flexible of all of the options. CAT7 is considered difficult to work with and used mainly in larger companies and data centers.
The industry continues to look for better ways to transmit voice and data faster. When choosing cabling for your business, don’t automatically go with the cheaper option. You may pay more up front, but in the long run it could save your company time and money.
Voice and Data Cabling Installation
Who you choose to install your voice and data cabling is just as important as the quality of the materials you select. Selecting the right vendor partner to install your structured cabling system can determine the success or failure of it.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking for someone to install your voice and data cabling.
Plan. Plan. Plan.
Take time to create a plan for your structured cabling system in the beginning, and it will serve you well in the long run. Proper planning can set your business up for success now, as well as easily grow and adapt as your business grows and technology changes.
Follow the Standards
The US cabling industry and cabling manufacturers adhere to The American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The ANSI alongside the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) and the Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA) has published cabling standards as it relates to design, installation, and maintenance of cabling installations. Any company that installs your structured cabling system should be following the ANSI/TIA/EIA standards.
Echoing what I mentioned above about cutting costs with cable type or quality, the same applies to voice and data cabling installation. Attention to detail, adherence to standandards, and overall competence with networking are crucial. Who you choose to partner with can have a big impact on the longevity of your overall network.
All of these things considered, it’s worth taking the time to choose an experienced vendor that can properly evaluate your cabling needs and help you find the right types of voice and data cabling for your business. Every business’s cabling needs are unique. It’s important to have the right equipment and vendor partner to match yours.
To maintain a competitive advantage in business today, advanced information technology is not just nice to have, it’s required. One of the main benefits of voice and data cabling is the ability to evolve and grow with the ever-changing upgrades to modern technology.
If you are looking at voice and data cabling and have any questions about how it might benefit your business, give Network Installers a call. We can answer any questions or get you started with your voice and data cabling solution.